Why just watch the windsurfers when you can join them? We took lessons in a small lagoon, about 15 minutes on land, then about an hour and a half in the water. I wish I had pictures. It was aweome!! (Though tiring!) It was about $150 for 2 of us to take private lessons together, almost the same as 2 individuals taking the group class. Though the website said it didn't include equipment, they didn't charge us anything extra.
Our instrucotr (forget her name) was very helpful, and we were really up and windsurfing pretty well within abut 30 minutes. It's not too hard to get a feel for it (and super safe in the lagoon). We took them through "Big Winds".
20 miles north of Hood River on the Washington side of the Columbia, is the whitewater center of Husum. Kayakers and rafters can put in five miles upriver at BZ Corner and run nonstop class 4 and 3 rapids at the bottom of a deep lava cliffed canyon. Right at Husum, the 12 foot high Husum Falls, a class five affair, finishes the run. The same ground can be covered by more normal folks by taking one of the several half day rafting trips offered by local companies - wet suits and helmets covered in the price. Immediately downstream from the falls are kayak slaloms which attest to summertime contests.
The Hood River Railroad offers excursions from Hood River to Odell or Parkdale. The round trip takes about 4 hours and is a relaxing ride through orchards, vineyards, lumber yards and other scenery, with Mt Hood or Mt Adams always peeking around the corner.
When you arrive in Parkdale, you have time to grab a quick bite or just take in the awesome view of Mt Hood. We managed to grab a sandwich at the deli and still have plenty of time to take some pictures before re-boarding the train for the journey back.
It isn't exciting, but it is pleasant and a delightful way to see some of the surrounding area.
Tickets were $30 each, but you can usually find discounts available (at least everyone else seemed to.).
The Columbia Gorge Highway was built as both a transportation but also as a recreational road - in 1913 the whole interstate highway system was still many years in the future. Supposedly the cheif engineer on the project said he designed it not to "mar what God had put there."
As part of this project, quite a number of special scenic tunnels were blasted out of the rock cliffs.
One of the tunnels had special archways in the side so that people could get a great view out fo the side of the tunnel as they drove through it. Various other tunnels were specially built.
The last of those tunnels in existence is the "twin tunnels" near Hood River. They suffered a similar fate as their cousin tunnels elsewhere on the road: when interstate 84 was finished, the tunnel was filled with rock to keep people from going inside. Thankfully, it wasn't blasted out of existence like some of the others were.
In the 1980s there was an effort started to try to create a trail through the Gorge using the abandoned segments of the old Columbia Gorge highway. These tunnels would be part of this plan.
It wasn't until fairly deep in the 1990s that some actual progress was made in this proposal, and progress was quite slow.
Today, there is now a Mark O Hatfield Trail between Hood River and Mosier that uses the old highway, and as much as possible restores the highway to the way it once looked in the 1910s and 1920s. The road is mostly closed to vehicles (there are occasional exceptions for special historic auto groups but those are only during very special occasions).
The tunnels are located at approximately milepost 72 on the trail, or about 5 miles from the parking area.
The tunnels have been modified somewhat from their original form. They were widened for trucks and other larger vehicles in the years after the highway was built and before the Interstate was built. The process of filling the tunnel with rock, then removing it decades later caused some stability problems here and there on the slope, and so today a huge structure exists to protect those on the trail below from any rocks that may fall from the cliff above the road.
Also, the tunnels are no longer really "twins", as the rock face was blown up on the west tunnel as part of the 1960s demolition effort, and the two tunnels connected by the protective structure. However, what is here today is as best as possible a restoration of what was left here and still restorable.
It is still possible to view the Columbia Gorge out the windows that were built into the side of the tunnel. However, the original spectacular walkway that once graced the side of the cliff outside the tunnels is mostly gone. There are a few places where the ornate wall that was once at the edge of the walkway can still be seen, and parts of an old staircase that was part of the walkway is still there as well, though you can only see those remnants of this once great structure at a distance from the end of one of the tunnels.
Thanks to the windows in the side of the tunnel that were so thoughtfully provided by the designers almost 100 years ago, it is possible to get through the tunnel without a flashlight. However, you will want to bring a flashlight anyway, as there are a few locations were people have carved their names in the wall of the tunnel. Many of these names are modern vandalism, but there are a few historic ones, such as the "Snowbound Nov 19 to 27, 1921" message seen in photo 5. Such messages, while I suppose strictly speaking vandalism, are today more of a part of the historic highway's long and storied history.
Also, such messages show how much more difficult travel by road was in the 1910s and 1920s than it was today: bring your food and water with you, and hope that some day you will eventually make it through the rough roads and bad weather conditions.
To get to the tunnels from Hood River, go east on the main two lane road through town. This starts off as State Street, and at a 4-way stop on the east side of Hood River (the river itself - just after the bridge) the road changes name to Old Columbia River Drive. After it weaves up the side of the hill (take a look at Google Maps of that thing!) it becomes somewhat straight and heads east. The road eventualy comes to an end at the trailhead for the Mark O Hatfield Trail or Historic Columbia Gorge Highway Trail, depending on what sign you are reading. You will then to either walk or bike from this point east to the tunnels. If you are only interested in seeing the tunnels and not the Columbia Gorge scenery, then it should be noted that the Twin Tunnels are much closer to the Mosier end of the trail, and you may want to walk or bike in from that end.
The web site below is the state web site for the state park in which the tunnels sit. It is called "Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail" and is part of the Oregon State Parks system. It is a pay to enter park, and there is a fee pay station at the entrance to the park.
This is located within a parking fee area state park, so you will have to visit the self-service fee machine as described in my Oregon State Parks tip to pay for your visit, unless you have an Oregon State Parks annual pass.
You will also find this trail listed as the "Mark O Hatfield State Park" or "Mark O Hatfield State Trail" and variations of that.
In the 1980s there was a significant effort under way to preserve and restore parts of the historic Columbia River highway that been abandoned and partially destroyed when Interstate 84 was put into operation. Many areas were not too difficult to restore, and other areas were intentionally damaged in order to keep people from going where they shouldn't go.
The section of the trail between Hood River and Mosier was one section that was difficult to restore, as it required removing a huge amount of material from inside the tunnels that had been put there to keep people out of them. Unfortunately, the material inside the tunnels was obtained by destroying part of the highway.
You can see photos and read more about the "Twin Tunnels" on my "Twin Tunnels" tip for this area, as they are significant monuments in and of themselves.
The trail to get to the tunnels is now a state park, and as much as possible the road has been restored to its original state as it was when it was put out of service. This includes the historic (but not up to modern specifications) highway guard rails, some of which are ornate stone walls.
There are a number of trees growing along the road that obscure the view of the Columbia River gorge, yet there also several spectacular viewpoints that are almost just as good as they were when the road was originally built.
This is a state park that requires a fee, and there is a pay station at the parking lot at the Hood River end of the trail.
It is a shorter walk to get to the tunnels from the Mosier End of the trail, and I have put the Mosier end of the trail into a separate tip for the city of Mosier.
The sun can be brutal in the summer months in this part of the gorge, and the wind will contribute to dehydration. Bring water - you can fill your container at the facilities at the start of the trail if you want.
The state park ranger station at the Hood River end of the trail is only open during certain hours, so if you have a question be sure to check their hours as when you come back there may not be anyone there.
The parking lot contains electrical connections for recreational vehicles at special parking spaces.
All of the photos you see here are from the Hood River to Twin Tunnels section of the trail.
To get to the trail from Hood River, go east on the main two lane road through town. This starts off as State Street, and at a 4-way stop on the east side of Hood River (the river itself - just after the bridge) the road changes name to Old Columbia River Drive. After it weaves up the side of the hill (take a look at Google Maps of that thing!) it becomes somewhat straight and heads east. The road eventualy comes to an end at the trailhead for the Mark O Hatfield Trail. Beyond there you must either walk or bike, and can go all the way to Mosier.
The web site below is the state web site for the state park where the trail is located. It is called "Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail" and is part of the Oregon State Parks system. It is a pay to enter park, and there is a fee pay station at the entrance to the park.
This is a parking fee based state park, so you may have to visit the self-service pay fee machine as described in my Oregon State Parks tip, or if you have the annual pass you don't have to worry about that.
After being underwhelmed by Wah Gwin Gwin Falls i was awestruck by Starvation Creek Falls. This waterfall looks about 2 times as tall as Wah Gwin Gwin Falls but that may be in part because it has awkward viewpoints. The falls themselves are about 186 feet (56 m) but like I said, they feel much taller.
From the parking area this waterfall is about 3 minutes walk on a paved trail. The waterfall is hidden from the trails end by a large boulder but by stepping over the barrier and finding a path up to the falls where you will be required to cross the creek it will end up right at the base of the falls.
This view is truly spectacular the two tiers of this waterfall are separated by a large pinnacle shaped rock which sends the lower cascade down in a sheet over the exposed moss covered rock face. With the proximity to a developed trail this waterfall is surprisingly scenic and is one of my favorites in all of Oregon.
Starvation Creek was named for a unfortunate accident that occurred in the area on December 18, 1884. The Pacific Express train plowed into a snow bank and left 148 people stranded for three weeks while the snow was cleared. Despite the name, Nobody starved during the whole ordeal.
Wah Gwin Gwin Falls claimed to be 207 feet (63 m) but i believe it is much shorter. Unfortunately the views of the waterfall are only from the overlook behind the Historic Columbia River Gorge Hotel. It is a side view which makes it difficult to see the whole falls.
Aside from the precarious angle i find the falls to be a little disappointing. As a waterfall enthusiast i hate it when a waterfall is diverted for power or developed to the point that it looses scenic beauty and this is certainly the case at this falls. The hotel is built not 40 feet (12 m) from the crest of the falls. It is however a very pretty falls and if a view from the bottom could be reached (train tracks pass by the base) it would be much more interesting to me.
Possibly the best aspect of the falls is the name itself. Wah Gwin Gwin is a Chinook Indian term meaning "rushing waters". This is much more appropriate than the other name "lullaby falls" given to it likely by hotel patrons.
The Hood River Valley is filled with fruit orchards - apples and pears of many varieties. It is a great place to be in September driving from one fruit stand to another. But if you come in late March, then you can behold the grandeur of a blossom-filled valley with a snow-bedecked Mt Hood rising regally behind. A great place to treat your eyes to the wonders is at the Hood River County Park at Panorama Point, just southeast of Hood River.
Tallest peak in Oregon - 11,237 feet, 3,426 m - Mt Hood rises above the south end of the Hood River Valley in dramatic pose. See my Mt Hood pages for more tips. There are hiking, skiing and backpacking opportunities galore. Climbs from the north side tend to be much steeper and longer than those from the south and eastern sides.
This is the 12326 foot volcanic behemoth lying -- miles north of Hood River, framed by the White Salmon River Valley. Mt Adams is not as known as some of the other large Northwestern volcanoes maybe because it is not as visible as the others. Glaciers drape the volcano. North and south sides present 'easy' climbing routes - the south side actually had a mule road to a sulfur mine atop the peak - a large frozen plateau. You can tell what kind of a snowpack the previous winter was by the amount of the old cabin - left over from the mine days - that shows above the snowy ices. West and east routes demand much more in the way of mountain skills covering steep ice and rotten rock.